Posted: Tilanus Commodor @ Sun Apr 21, 2013 5:54 pm
I recently got a gentle mail from the 'Sons of Vidya', a group of video game podcasters, who intensely discuss games that for some reason call their attention. Being avid fans and enthusiasts of the Age of Empires series, it seemed to be only a matter of time until they'd discover NE.
Since most of the received feedback on mods comes in the shape of written posts, I thought you might enjoy an auditive review on NE just as much as I did. So, you can have a listen here to their podcast (part of NE ends around 24:00):
Posted: Tilanus Commodor @ Sun Mar 31, 2013 6:00 pm
Hey there folks!
This is a rather unusual news on the NE site, but I'm excited to tell you that our fellows at Knights & Barbarians (K&B), of whom several people have also helped out NE already, released their first version of the mod, called Knights & Barbarians Prologue.
The mod can not be downloaded yet as it's being uploaded right now on several platforms and should finish either within the next minutes or hours. However, Robert "peugeot407" Faber, head of the mod, has also released a very informative and interesting video about the release and future developments of K&B. So, it's ideal to watch for skipping some time until the mod's up. Go, check it!
Posted: Tilanus Commodor @ Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:20 pm
I know, I know, it took 3 months for this report! Why? Because I've more and more become a slave to uni. Now that I am in the 5th of 6 semesters in which I have to manage and work for another game project parallely. It's also the universal truth that Christmas and silvester time is party time! But no further bla bla, let's just go straight to the new stuff!
Military Academy (Military counterpart of University)
Forest plantation (Quick wood source)
Fort (reworked availability and extended functionalities)
Water trade route (limited to one map though)
Mercenary Camp (reworked Saloon)
Secret building X ()
New sounds, graphics and models Like..
Rifles, hats, helmets, swords, ..
Some new language sounds
Some new flags (so that everyone most of us will find peace )
Optional Native-English language NE download Standard version will be fully English!
That's what'll be mainly in the next version. As I said, it's a rough plan and lots of tiny details and fixes haven't been mentioned here, but will nonetheless be in the next release. And don't you wonder please! Of course that's not all the stuff I have been spend my time working on the last years. There a hell more plans and concepts prepared, which are as good as these release notes hopefully sound to you (and better).
They just can't be realized yet, because they'll still be concepts when I'm done with the abovely mentioned stuff. I do at least ~85% of the mod all by myself and I'm no superman
In my function as member of the Modding Council [Link] I was working on the so called GrannyLib [Link] which is a library for modders on AoE3 models and their characteristics. If you wonder about the name, no, there is no fetish for old women, it’s really just the engine’s name (namingly the Granny engine by Radgametools).
The ones who follow forum discussions may know that Scottish natives were planned. Our beloved AOE_Fan started scripting NE Scotland. There are no screenshots yet, but I can show you a more detailed and progressed plan of the map:
MisterSCP from K&B helped in coding the new NE Commander and the secret building.
Ca Putt and I have been working on the Danish AI character Christian IV, yet we are looking for a surname or family name for him as it is common among AoE3 personalities like Frederick the Great, Augustus the Strong or John Sobieski.
I made another new version of tricorner.
I did a lot of research (I guess I’m just a curious guy), to make this part more interesting for you, I’ll additionally explain what I intend to possibly do with the results of my research.
Since the NE timeline starts with 1555 and just because NE is trying to realize history at least appropriately, I was having a closer look on early cavalry. That includes the predecessors of modern cavalry (in the sense of non-medieval) like Harquebusiers as well as anachronistic cavalrymen such as Demi-lancers. Mind that these units will most probably not be included in the next release. Here some results:
Archaic cavalry research Spoiler:
Harquebusier is an umbrella term for different early types of cavalrymen. The armament was comparably light, mostly wearing a simple front plate and capeline helmet. Primary weapons and tactical usage could differ hugely by country. They used pistols, harquebusses (an arquebus carbine) and swords. This is yet one of the trickiest units to realize. It offers potential as early HC card for cavalry stats or Age 2 Dragoon. The predecessor of the Harquebusier is the Petronel, his time of presence falls into our definition of Age 1.
Harquebusier images Spoiler:
Demilancers are next to cuirassiers the lighter successors of fully armoured medieval knights. As the name indicates, they’re primarily armed with lances unlike cuirassiers who quickly adopted pistols and used sword or sabre for charges. So far Demi-Lancers are already part of NE, but only as an Arsenal tech that increases the damage of heavy hand cavalry against non-heavy infantry. The Italian Elmeti mercenary from AoE3 is kind of a pseudo Demilancer. I may call them like that as the Elmeti are not really satisfying in view of relevance and popularity. They’d still be mercenaries as I don’t see how they’d suit as a regular or unique unit.
Cuirassiers were indeed standard units and never only unique to France. The question if they stay unique to the French won’t be answered within the next release though. However, I can imagine other ways to release the lock for other non-French, but still famous cuirassier regiments and thus establishing a broader concept of heavy cavalry, somehow continuing the knights concept of AoE2.
So, these are some thoughts on early cavalry units, don’t take these for granted though, these are just ideas yet!
A completely different unit that you’re already famlilar with is the Sapper. Currently he is a melee soldier armed with a shovel that deals huge siege damage to buildings. While I like the texture, I feel this unit could be more exciting. Sapping is a very old strategy for sieges, so I think it could be available in Age 3 already. As opposed to the shovel, their characteristic weapon of choice was a woodcutter’s axe and so I will use it. I fancy building, woodcutting and more effective attack abilities. More to come!
Next to the huge researches I was also texturing units. Some of them are design sketches yet, but others are already finished.
There are new plans for existing or upcoming natives such as Arabs, Vlachs, Scots, Cossacks, Tatars and Maltese. Arabs will probably replace the outdated Hashashins, which are obviously the copy of the Assassins from the Assassin’s Creed game series. Arabs will provide light, quick and to some extent striking troops. Vlachs then again simply need more research as they’re not really interesting and accurate yet. The Maltese (”Hospitaller”) will abandon their medieval style and in exchange adopt the 17-18th fashion. They’re good for navy, defensive fortifications and healers. Scots will be made for the Scotland map and provide offensive melee troops. Cossacks and Tatars were not only checked on their potential as natives but also on how to implement them in the Ottoman, Polish-Lithuanian and Russian civ. [...]
I've been looking for a German revolution unit. It'll most probably be the Bürgermilitär (Citizen Militia).
The Veteran Landsknecht is wearing feathers now!
Most of you certainly remember the German Reichstag, right? So far we used an originally unused Church model for that building due to rough similarities with the Paulskirche, which was the German parliament of 1848. However, since 1848 is not covered by our timeline, I started modeling the correct Reichstag building. I don’t want to spoiler too much, that’s why I’ll provide you only with this technical 3d view yet!
The current Reichstag building.
Current progress on the new Reichstag building!
The Streltsy were actually elite troops with additional function as police. In NE and AoE3 they've always been portraited as weak, easily massable unit. While I'll certainly not fully discard these characteristics, I think Strelets will be stronger and additionally look way cooler!
Pososhnaya and Serfs are villager-like units. The first is a very simple, archaic type of military engineer and the latter a cheaper, but also weaker standard villager. These are just ideas yet, so no promise on these ones.
Russians will certainly get Swordsmen in the first ages, but not in the next release. It's actually planned for the redesign.
Because Oprichniki were a police troop for only a very very short time (and considering our timeline way too old) and because Cossacks also served as (border) police troop in Russia, I had to idea to merge these units, which would I guess significantly raise the popularity of Cossacks.
Hitherto I've also had disturbingly tried to find a way to realize a unit, that was part of the early local Moscovite army ("Поместное войско"), in which the Landed gentry served. While I think it'd be a shame not to realize them, turns out doing that is a really hard job. They're specifically early troops and sorta hard to continue for later ages. Especially their unique (but highly attractive) armament is tightening that issue.
PredatoR is progressing with his Ottoman civ mod for AoE3. With his expertise I've been been trying to find appropriate Ottoman equivalents for the new upcoming NE features (Commanders, Riflemen, Revolution units and such). That included some quick researches on Tüfekçi (skirmishers), Azaps (light infantry), Nizam-i cedid (reform line infantry), Humbaraci (grenadiers), Akinci (mounted raiders), Crimean Tatars, Topçu (artillery corps) and, of course, the Sipahi.
(textures and models by PredatoR)
The Polish stable is giving me headaches. The great challenge we face is to make it fun, balanced and accurate at the same time and even while we clearly prioritize balance as upmost criterion, it is still a hard job to get Husarze (Winged hussars), Lisowczyky, Pancerni/Petyhorcy, Ulans and (Lipka) Tatars together in a working and compressed way. Simply put: There are too much units, the boni aren't clear and the mergence is often complicated due to incompatible armament and backgrounds:
The current progress status sees the Husarz (better known as Winged hussar) as quick, strong, tough and high-priced allrounder which is especially useful against melee troops (preferably infantry). They're quicker than French cuirassiers, one age earlier available (Age 2), their HP and damage are quite similar, but the Husarz is more expensive. They also have melee armour and not ranged.
While Lisowczyky are surely a fun unit, they were really only active until 1620. Therefore I considered turning them into a Church tech or as upgrade for Ulans or the newly planned Lipka Tatar. Another idea would be to even merge Lisos with Ulans, while the question would arise if they'd be either armed with lances or sabres.
Pancerni/Pethorcy are flexible medium cavalrymen from Poland and Lithuania (armed with bows, lances, pistols, sabres, ..) and between the light Ulans, Tatars and Lisowczyky and the heavy Husarze. So far they had a "increase strength by number" group bonus. While the group bonus is surely fun, the stats currently interfere with the Husarz' ones. They're strong, but their role is sorta unclear.
Ulans are particularly complicated. On the one hand Poland needs an equivalent to Hussars or Chevaulegers (so far, this was the Lisowczyky) on the other, Ulans are sort of obsolete if there are Winged hussars (you want 'em), Lisowczyky (they're still there) and Pancerni (...). Why? Because most of these units have no boni at all and just differ in costs, hp and damage and this is pretty bad.
The (Lipka) Tatars are easier to handle since Tatars are the new Cavalry archers and thus have a predefined role. Question here is if they are regular units with a RG upgrade (which would be the Lipka Tatar) or if they are a fully unique unit. If the latter'd be the case, then they could be even mixed with Lisowczyky.
For the ones who haven't realized yet, Partyzanty and Tabors are already out.
I and Ca Putt have been working on concretizing the Swiss military. Read here the new concept:
Swiss military concept Spoiler:
The Swiss excel in fielding archaic infantry and mercenaries. If prepared well, the Swiss can play a good rush. The more the game proceeds though, Swiss will face a higher need of more modern professionals and these can’t be built in sufficient quantity. The reinforcements of Swiss guards, French troops - especially when revolting - and the extended availability of special mercenaries is present in all ages though and partially allows them to compensate their obvious lack of efficient modern troops. The very tactical character of Swiss gameplay can be utilized with the increased mobility and the occurrent hiding ability of buildings and units. The huge drawbacks in terms of cavalry and naval warfare though, precisely cuts and defines the Swiss’ shape of being a predestinated infantry civ.
Personal review: It's a pity, that I have to produce all the design stuff myself and that I have so few time on my hands now. Nonetheless, I think nailing the release notes was an important step to enable focused working in the future.
Posted: Tilanus Commodor @ Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:20 pm
Ha! Modding Report!
Great, isn't it? Finally, after months, I can present you all the progress that's been made on NE, and it's not been few! And that considering the fact that other things were keeping me busy. My holidays are over now and I promise you, my last two semesters will be the hardest for sure. Nonetheless I always managed *somehow* to work on NE. So you can still count with updates and reports!
Let's begin with the seemingly boring, but actually essential stuff, which causes quite a lot of work:
Some may know that I'm just continuing NE and haven't been working with the code until NE 2.01. That's why I'm basically rather modding a mod and less modding AoE3. Less people will know that I'm actually studying game design in the 5th semester. Now it starts to pay out now in terms of better project management that comes with a better documentation of what has been analyzed and is planned/being worked on. That means I'm applying classical tools of the game development industry to the project's organization. To shorten this (as I guess nobody except the modders is really interested) let me just mention some points that I consider important:
A more detailed vision for all departments (visuals/aesthetics, UI, gameplay feeling, content, etc.)
Compact team overview with responsibilities, tasks and activity status
Here some typical sheets, I blurred them out because they would unnecessarily reveal additional data and we all wanna stay excited
Asset List: Here the progress status of all assets (3d models, textures, etc.) is listed. It asks questions like: Does the asset work as intended? What's wrong with it? Does the team have access to this file? Who did this asset? etc.
Task Overview: Defines positions and responsibilities of team members, lists current and future tasks, shows status of activity, etc.
Basing on the last point I greatly started to analyze the essential features of NE or better: to discover them. The code that the former team left to me is completely uncommented, a lil chaotic and thus hard to figure. The features are mainly different systems of technologies such as:
Imperial technologies (Capitol-like techs)
Huge military or economic supports in Age V
Unique civ techs ("NE Ultimate")
Wild Cards (4 differently focused techs for NE civs)
NE will get an extended Fort with additional fire modes! This also means we rethink the availability of forts. They might become buildable which goes hand in hand with our concept of fortification buildings.
MisterSCP, known for his coding and modeling for the Knights & Barbarians mod, offered to help NE! Hopefully soon we'll see something from him!
Yomgui (Technical Artist) has obviously made progress on unit designs and announced - same as DKBadReputation (Balancer/QA) - to be active again in October. Check out the units made by Yomgui!
Ca Putt (happy birthday! ) has been suggesting a new system for natives, which is currently being discussed. The main idea is that natives and their TPs become more useful, especially in late game. We're not agreeing yet if Natives should be fully occupiable, extendable or just improvable of any main civ. Apart from the Natives themselves other units may play a central role for them.
Explorers and Commanders will be central tactical units in NE gameplay. Their roles will be different from each other, which will result in the Explorers losing several abilities (mainly military ones) and gaining other ones instead. The Explorer will be focused on more civil, scientific and diplomatic aspects, whereas the Commander is clearly military focused. Both units come with special abilities and both may also be important for interaction with natives. I've been doing some testing with the Commander lately.
New models have been imported and planned. I even modeled a two-sided folded military cap, which you can see here without texture:
3d tests are sometimes really funny, especially tests with hats:
After the Gibraltar map NE is once again blessed by the interest and help of AOE_Fan, who will do one or two maps for NE. The firstly planned map is NE Scotland, check out my lovely draft with a motivational symbol for the Scripter!
NE Scotland Spoiler:
The concept of Minutemen and the Colonial Militia has been changed. The ColoMilitia will be unique for each civ in all its shapes, that means design and stats.
Minutemen instead will become generic Militiamen to untie the clear reference to the Americans. Their role and functionality will be redefined. Maybe unique Militiamen will be realized.
For each civ at least one plausible unit for Revolution has already been suggested. For example, the British will get Fencibles, the Portuguese will get Ordenanças and the Italians are likely to get the Schiavoni, here an original draft, which will be used for texturing:
For more information on these units, check out this thread.
I’m also working on new concepts for:
A secret type of building
I intend to rename the Age names, if convincing alternatives for the European setting can be found. If you have ideas, let me know!
I have been researching and sketching Swiss, French and Italian units. These units still need to be proved on suitability, some examples: Schweizer, Cent Suisse, Mousqetaires du Roi, Cerdina, Guardia Nobile, Arsenalotti, Garde françaises, etc. ..)
Guardia Nobile (Italians) - intended as late heavy cavalry from HC
I, Ca Putt and caveman909 have been working out voice concepts for Swiss, Germans, Prussians. Ah, and by the way: We're looking for Danish speaking people who want to record unit texts!
The Danish AI personality will be Christian IV.. A character description and portrait will be created now.
The Danish will most probably get the Espingol which is a quite late, but unique Danish type of artillery, that has many similarities with Organ Guns, which will likely result in the Organ Gun being removed from Portuguese.
I've finished the first design of the Snaphane. Snaphaner are Danish guerilla troops that are known for ambushing Swedish troops. They consisted mainly of peasants and were known to be partially bandits, but also cooperated with the regular Danish forces and notably weakened the Swedish.
In NE the Snaphane is an unique skirmisher available in Age 2, he has very low HP, but a good armour against ranged attacks. In internal files he's described as:
"Quick early skirmisher with few HP, but good ranged armour. Costs wood instead of food. Good against heavy infantry and villagers. Loses against melee troops and has no boni versus cavalry or in melee."
And now: PICS!
Snaphaner's hide out
The formerly unique British Rifleman has been merged into the Sharpshooter unit, which is now called Rifleman (due to the historically unique Rifling characteristic of his gun). Check out the design!
The civ boni for British will be reworked in the future. Their military core advantages will be:
Completeness in view of techs and units
Cost reductions (foremost @ships)
Maybe colonial troops
Internal Military Summary Spoiler:
Britain’s military strength is its technological completeness and excellence that should be easily affordable with its strong economy. However, it starts completely unspectacular and gets notable first in Age 3. Prior to it the British have to get on with only standard units and may be threatened by powerful rush civs.
In Age 4 the British cavalry and infantry units get access to RG upgrades that turn them into a dominating and fearsome force for any player. Since no standard unit is missing or affected by nerfs, they can practically counter everything. The British fleet lacks an UU, but is in exchange cheaper and thus easier to mass.
The economical boni will have a stronger relation to the Colonial assets of the British empire, which was mainly a Colonial empire indeed. Here an overview:
Access to slaves (which may replace the manor bonus)
Trade Post benefits
Earlier factory / gather rate benefits
Just like the British, the Dutch boni will certainly be reworked in the future, but probably (still not necessarily) - like the British ones - after the next release.
Internal Military Summary Spoiler:
The Dutch military has most of its advantages on sea, however, the land units don’t really exceed the standard selection. They may profit from foreign consulate troops though, either native, modified standard units or mercenaries. The VOC in the consulate also grants additional military boni. Remarkable is that Dutch units cost more proportionally gold than anything else, but also a lil less in total. Advantages for land forces lie within a quick and compact mortar and a strong militia. If played well, the Dutch can make a good standard rush and strike hard at fortress age. However, in late game their lack of specialized land forces becomes obvious.
Internal Economy Summary Spoiler:
The Dutch civ offers plenty of possibilities to come to wealth. So far, the banks are still an integrated part of the civ, but it may be developed into something more interactive later on such as a stock market for example. The new focus lies on trading companies that are accessible via consulate from which the WIC is economically focused and provides plantations and colonial settlers, whereas the VOC has a stronger military focus, but also grants access to possible luxury goods such as spices, coffee and tobacco. Generally the Dutch’s economy still focusses on Gold which is easy to get due to its civ boni (i.e. free crates, gather rates, professional settlers).
And last but not least:
Internal General Summary Spoiler:
The United Provinces or - the Dutch - play as economically unique, strong and flexible power civ. Their military troops remain - similar to the British - mainly standard units, which cost more gold than other resources for the Dutch. Even though RG upgrades are missing, they can form solid forces at land and sea. Their consulate, which offers access to either the VOC (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie) and the WIC (West-Indische Compagnie), allows them to extend their military as well as economical arsenal. The Dutch are especially strong at sea and can easily compete with other naval civs such as the Danish and British. Their economy bases on many assets such as unique institutions such as banks, the consulate and unique plantations, but also slaves and hardened colonial settlers.
Whenever he’s online, I’m cooperating with PredatoR, who’s doing a mod for the Ottoman civ, which he allowed me to incorporate to NE. With his mod he’s raising the historically accuracy to a new level and introduces famous units such as Akıncı, Azaps, Deli, Nizam-ı Cedid to the Ottoman civ, but also less known units such as Ottoman grenadiers. Stay tuned until you can see some pics! (btw, don't mind the top flag here, it's wrong, I'm going to update this)
A card from the HC may allow Prussians to train their Gemeiner already in Age 2 with adjusted stats. I’ve also made a new design for their age 2 unit, which will also be visible when training them (requiring you have not research the Veteran upgrade). Check out the (visually accurate) Altpreußische Armee that features this Gemeiner design already in a beta shape.
I don’t know if I have been mentioning it already, but the Landwehr will be replaced by standard settlers! The Landwehr itself will become the Prussian unique replacement for Colonial Militia.
In context of discovering technical NE features I’ve also been analyzing the Swiss civ on its technical functionality to find which features are worth keeping and which are not.
Ca Putt drew a raw sketch of a new unique unit for the Swiss.
Personal review: *ugh!*eek!*arggh!* PHEW! That was quite a lot! - And it was super strenuous to write this report, lol. - But it's been 2-3 months I guess. I hope you enjoyed it! Cause I do enjoy progressing with NE.
Posted: Tilanus Commodor @ Sun Sep 02, 2012 9:47 pm
I know there hasn't been a modding report for long, but don't worry please! I already took up work again. I've been busy with uni for long time, it became additionally strenuous in the end with being responsible for organizing a party and now, having only one month of holidays on my hands, I really want to use them for making stuff I usually don't have the time for. But lets not bother too much with my justifications, there'll be in every case a report for september!
We're already back at work and working on some cool features for NE. I'll also be away for another week, idling on a lovely Danish isle, but will take my hopefully repaired notebook with me so that I can still mod. I hope you guys are doing fine!